The rising burden of non-communicable diseases in east Africa region requires more national efforts to increase access to early diagnosis, care and treatment of the diseases, health experts have said.
“We are seeing rising cases of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as heart diseases, type-two diabetes, hypertension and several cancers among population in East Africa as a result of lack of access to early diagnosis and treatment,” said Francois Ndikumwenayo, president of Burundi NCD Alliance, at the opening of Regional NCDs Conference in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, on Thursday.
He said that increased national efforts and multisectoral approach are required to boost NCD awareness and investments in diagnostic and care facilities in the region.
Ndikumwenayo said that the budget allocated to NCDs management in Burundi is still low, which limits healthcare system capabilities to increase diagnosis and early treatment of non-communicable diseases.
The two-day forum, dubbed “Shaping an East Africa free of NCDs through people-centered interventions and transformative development,” has attracted over 500 participants, including health experts, government officials, and people living with NCDs from the east Africa region, as well as representatives from non-governmental organizations, the private sector and academia.
“We are calling on our governments across east Africa region to put in much efforts to ensure the availability of non-communicable diseases’ diagnostic facilities and care management facilities at national level,” said Zipporah Ali, chair of the NCD Alliance Kenya (NCDAK).
She said the NCDAK is trying to strengthen the healthcare system, particularly primary healthcare, so that people can easily access NCD services in Kenya.
“We are working on multi-sectoral collaborations to make NCDs everyone’s business, and we have been doing well on tobacco control and setting up alcohol policy in Kenya,” Ali said.
Joseph Mucumbitsi, president of Rwanda NCD Alliance, said that raising awareness on NCD prevention and early diagnosis and treatment will reduce the burden of the rising cases of non-communicable diseases in east Africa.
“Rwanda embarked on a campaign to encourage Rwandans to participate in physical exercises, especially Car-Free Day sports exercises as well educating them about NCDs and appropriate preventative measures,” he said.
Tharcisse Mpunga, minister of state in charge of primary healthcare in the Rwandan health ministry, said that to contain NCDs requires concerted efforts from both public and private sectors.
“NCDs account for 44 percent of all deaths in Rwanda, but the ‘good news’ is that some are preventable with an increase to access to early diagnosis and care,” he said. Enditem